With Worthing Pride around the corner, people from our LGBT+ community have come forward to tell their stories.
Among them is Scott Crowter from Lancing. Scott is transgender – in his case, it means he is non-female, but born into a female body.
The 24-year-old said he had always liked to play football when he was younger, and got the nickname ‘Bernie’ from his tutor – a term of affection which has stuck with many people.
But it was only aged 16 when Scott said the realisation he was transgender ‘popped into his head’. When he started college, he changed his name to Scott, and soon after cut off all his hair, which was halfway down his back.
He said: “It was about me taking control of my identity. I have been doing it a lot recently; getting my ear pierced and a tattoo.”
Having already come out as bisexual and then gay to his parents, Scott said telling them he was trans was another step on his journey of self-discovery.
“After every single coming out, my parents have said: ‘are you sure?’, and given me some time to maybe change my mind,” he said. “But at that point, they didn’t really accept it as a permanent thing until I got in touch with Charing Cross five years ago.”
The Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic in Fulham Palace Road, London, is one of few clinics across the country which specialises in transgender people who wish to transition.
In Scott’s case, he wants to have chest surgery and to take hormones to alter his appearance. As they have a long waiting list, Scott had to wait almost two years before receiving a letter from the clinic to say he had been accepted for treatment.
He said: “I was so relieved when I got that letter, and excited: it was the start of a new journey; the start of becoming who I was inside rather than this person walking around.”
According to Scott, a common misconception is that people who are transgender want full surgery to become the opposite sex.
But in his case, he is non-binary – which means he identifies neither as male or female, but rather on a spectrum of gender. He said: “I don’t want to be a guy, that isn’t on my radar. But people will assume that I’m a guy now, or they just see me as a girl. They don’t see anything in-between.”
Scott prefers people to use the pro-nouns ‘he’ or ‘they’ when talking to him, and said he can find it offensive if people choose to continue calling him by his birth name.
Before the next step of starting hormone therapy, Scott, who has epilepsy and severe depression, wanted to make sure these would not react with his medication.
A suicide attempt a year ago, which he said was partially related to his gender identity, led him to getting involved with Coastal West Sussex Mind – and he said the ‘friendly atmosphere’ had helped him build his confidence.
When asked if he thought mental health problems were a bigger issue in the LGBT+ community, he said the issues they faced to straight people were different, but not worse.
With regards to Worthing Pride, he said: “It’s a big deal. For Worthing to notice the LGBT community, it’s like they can finally be comfortable in Worthing. They can finally say, yes, I can be who I am at home.”
Worthing Pride is due to kick off with a colourful parade opposite the Burlington Hotel, in Marine Parade, Worthing, at 1pm, followed by a family-friendly festival in Beach House Park until 10pm, headlined by tribute act ABBA Magic. Click here to find out more about the acts, and here for how to buy tickets.
Organiser Josie Kelly explained why we still need pride festivals; click here to find out.